Patricia Neal, Oscar winner who overcame tragic life, dies at 84
Patricia Neal, the smoky-voiced actress who won an Oscar opposite Paul Newman in "Hud," has died. She was 84.
The star of stage and screen passed away in her Martha's Vineyard home after a battle with lung cancer, according to the New York Times.
Neal's life was marked by extreme highs and lows. Near the beginning of her career, she was disappointed in the Ronald Reagan comedy "John Loves Mary" and even in the coveted role of Dominique Francon in "The Fountainhead" with Gary Cooper. She also scored a Tony on Broadway for her part in Lillian Hellman's "Another Part of the Forest."
During this time she carried on a three-year love affair with the much older and married Cooper, who eventually broke it off when he refused to leave his wife. After a few mediocre movies, she dropped Hollywood and reunited with Hellman to star in "The Children's Hour."
At this time she met British author Roald Dahl ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "James and the Giant Peach"), whom she married even though later she admitted she didn't love him. Together they had five children, but daughter Olivia died from measles encephalitis and son Theo was only four months old when he, inside his baby carriage, was struck by a taxi.
In 1965, Neal herself suffered from three aneurysms that left her in a coma. It was Dahl's experience taking care of Theo that helped her with rehabilitation, and she learned not only to walk and talk again, but she snagged the Oscar nomination for "The Subject Was Roses" and later gave birth to their daughter Lucy.
The couple eventually divorced after 30 years of marriage after Neal discovered that a good friend has been having a long-term affair with Dahl.
A TV movie was made of Neal's life, with Glenda Jackson playing the legendary actress and Dirk Bogarde as Dahl.
In 1988, she published her autobiography, "As I Am."
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Photo credit: Warner Bros.
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